State of our Communities (SOOC) 2021 is a snapshot of the stories of local communities in Tokoroa, Carterton and Invercargill. SOOC combines real-life voices of locals with relevant public data to show that more effort must be made to prevent the social and economic decline in smaller regional and rural communities in New Zealand. Some of the current government’s advancements in economic welfare, climate change and digitalisation can often result in disproportionate impacts between urban centres and small-town New Zealand. Ensuring the welfare of smaller communities in NZ such as Tokoroa, Carterton and Invercargill are critical to food, energy and resource provision our nation relies on.
What these communities lack in size they surely make up for in virtue and character. Some of the major social issues that emerged were housing issues, displacement of youth, support for ageing populations, poor access to mental health services and healthcare. There were also innovative and creative solutions in every local community. Solutions and a way forward doesn’t hinge on the national government alone but on partnership between national government, local government and local communities.
It is said that “The moral test of government is how that government treats those who are in the dawn of life, the children; those who are in the twilight of life, the elderly; and those who are in the shadows of life, the sick, the needy and the disabled.” Reflecting on the stories from our local communities in Tokoroa, Carterton and Invercargill we will not pass this moral test unless we work together.